Conferencing Realtime Video

Introduction: Video Conferencing is an efficient means of audio visual communication between two or more people stationed at different locations. They may also exchange files real time containing relevant information amongst each other in addition to having a virtual conference between them. The areas of application and thus the popularity of real time video conferencing has increased steeply over the years due to the availability of higher bandwidth internet connection in more places in the world, as it has resulted in a faster and efficient data transfer which makes sure the uninterrupted and continuous flow of visual and audio streams along with other files that are being shared

The history of video conferencing
The history of video conferencing is almost as long as that of the television, as there are evidences that the method, albeit in its basic form, was employed to real ize communication between two points stationed apart. This was achieved by a cable which was used to connect the CCTVs (closed circuit televisions) at each point. This mode of video conferencing using analogue signal input were mainly employed by the television companies to bring in news reports from the concerned place to the viewers. This technique, though had obvious advantages, suffered many drawbacks. One of the main shortcomings was the poor quality of video /audio due to the employment of analogue transmission. The method was also highly expensive due to the amount of material costs associated with the process. It was only after the introduction of digital technology in the field of telecommunication, the ISDN network for instance, which ensured better compression of the input signals, that video conferencing could be undertaken with reasonable efficiency . The expenses related with video conferencing also came down due to the lower equipment cost connected with the now improved technology.

The 90's saw the emergence of internet and the revolutionary change it made to the field of communication services. video conferencing also reaped high returns in the period with more powerful tools of audio/video compression emerging by the day. In the following years, the technique extended its popularity with free software for facilitating real time video conferencing began to be available for the public to download and use, like the yahoo messenger, Skype, msn messenger to name a few. For the professional use and for those who needed better performance, there was of course better software available for cost as well.

The working technology behind real time video conferencing
The basic technology behind real time video conferencing over the internet is the compressing of the audio/video signals that is input to the system using tools known as codecs. Modern codecs achieve a compression rate of up to 1/500. The stream that results is transferred into an internet network using modems after dividing them further into small packets of data.

To realize a real time video conference involving three stations or more, a multipoint control unit is made use of . This connects calls from the different stations involved in the conference to one another. A multipoint control unit (MCU in short) can either be software or a combination of hardware and software. The MCU s is categorized based on the amount of calls that it is capable of handling at a given point of time. Separate MCU units are available for internet based conferencing as well as for the ISDN based ones.

Advantages of real time video conferencing
One of the obvious advantage of real time video conferencing is the amount of money and time it saves for us as it avoids the cost and time to travel for people to travel get together to have a meeting or discussion. As it provides a means to have a visual contact with one another rather than an audio conversation, it creates an environment of meaningful business discussions, learning, sharing of ideas among professionals like doctors, engineers and IT professionals.